Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Joshua 8

I love that God gives another chance! In chapter 7 Joshua send a small group of men against Ai and they were defeated. It turned out that there was sin in the camp because of Achan. In the chapter it doesn't say that God told Joshua to take Ai, but He did say the land was theirs and they were to go in an posses it. Joshua and the people had just defeated Jericho and they were probably feeling pretty powerful and invincible. Ever felt like that? I have.

So they tried to take Ai with only a small portion of their forces. That doesn't work; Joshua grovels before the Lord; the Lord says "get up!"; tells Joshua there is sin in the camp; and Achan admits his sin and is stoned, burned, and buried. But, in chapter 8 God says "don't be timid and don't hesitate, take your men and Ai is yours." God tells Joshua to set an ambush. This time Joshua chooses thirty thousand seasoned men to set the ambush. In chapter 7 he send two to three thousand men total. These thirty thousand were just the ambush! I wonder how seasoned these men where. Before entering the Promised Land all the men of Joshua's age have died because they didn't believe. There hasn't been a lot of fighting other than Jericho, but these men are considered seasoned.

Then Joshua leads the rest of the men, all the rest of them, to Ai. They pretend to flee before the overly confident forces of Ai and led them away from the city. Then God tells Joshua to stretch out his javelin toward Ai and the ambush springs to action and wipes out the city. The men with Joshua attack the men of Ai and all of them are killed except the king, who is later hanged. Joshua did not lower the javelin until the city and all the people are destroyed. I think that means Joshua never fought. If he never lowered the javelin he couldn't have fought against the people of Ai.

When I think about this story I see some valuable truths. I see that God gives second chances.When He makes the plan then the enemy is defeated. I have go up against my enemies with the full strength of the Lord, not just the little bit of strength I may possess. And most importantly sometimes I don't even have to fight. Sometimes God asks me to do something crazy like hold up a javelin in the middle of a battle raging around me. I can just see it. It's kind of like a Hollywood movie where the hero is standing in the middle of the fight staring down the enemy and no one attacks him. Seriously, he just stands there and then one of them charges at the other and the battle is on. How many times have I seen that scene involving Mel Gibson? Maybe that is what this looked like, except Joshua never charges in he just holds the javelin.

Now that is not to say that I just get to stand there in all fights. Sometimes Joshua was right in the midst of the battle fighting along side the men, but in this case he did not fight. Sometimes God just puts me in the middle of the battlefield while angles or others fight the battle. How do I know when to just stand with my javelin and when to run the enemy through? Listen. God told Joshua to hold up the javelin. God will tell me when to just hold up my javelin.

After the battle is won Joshua builds the alter to the Lord, follows all the instructions of Moses, and then with all the people looking on reads all the instructions of Moses to them. When God has given me the victory I need to commemorate like Joshua did, built my own alter to the Lord. It is probably not going to be a stone alter, but it needs to be something. Then I need to spend time in Him and in His Word. The Lord gave the victory so the least I can do is acknowledge Him and spend time with Him in praise and thanksgiving.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Joshua 7

I have missed blogging. I have had a couple of very busy school weeks but it's break now so I have some time to read and post about Joshua. Interestingly right now The is going through Joshua so I get to hear it each day.

Right after the walls of Jericho fell down the Isreaelites fall under the holy curse. Joshua sends men against Ai and they have to flee. Joshua is devasted and falls before the Lord and asks why they weren't allowed to just settle on the other side of the Jordan. God says "get up!" Okay I added the exclamation point, but I bet that He said it that way. He informs Joshua that they have sinned and how to find out who it was.

I want to stop there because this is where I got the most out of the chapter. How many times have I felt the victory of the Lord just to end up running from the enemy and telling God "why did or didn't You...?" I think it's interesting that after Joshua has been made famous all over the land he sends out spies, again, and then sends only a few thousand men against the city of Ai. I wonder if Joshua was feeling invincible, prideful, and thought "I got this." I wonder if he talked to God about it all. The Bible doesn't say that he did. As an aside I am amazed at how some of the Old Testament people talked and listened to God so regularly. I wish I was at that point in my walk.

Joshua sent his small group of men up against a seemingly weak city and they had to run for their lives. Sometimes I forget who is the one who wins the victories in my life. It isn't me! It's the Lord and I wonder if Joshua did the same. He sent his spies, will he not learn about those spies, didn't talk to God about Ai, and sent only a small group of men against the city. I send out spies, don't talk to God, and go forth in my own strength and end up running for my life. I thought I could defeat the enemy I went up against.

Then I do a Joshua and fall down on my face and cry out to God asking Him why He didn't let me stay immature in my faith, why He asked me to step out in faith and take the land which He promised me. Then He says "get up and stop graveling! You have sinned." Yup, I have sinned. I have come short of the glory of the Lord over and over again and sometimes that sin results in a fleeing before my enemies. I may have never hidden gold or silver, or a robe, that must have been one nice robe, but I have taken hold of unclean things and tried to hide them from God, just like Achan did.

Thankfully, even though I have to face the consequences of my sin, I don't have to be stoned to death and then burned. But hopefully that part of me that needs to die will. As much as I don't like the consequences of my sin I hope that the Lord is gracious and what needs to die in me does. I don't like repeating the same mistakes. I don't want the selfishness, fear, covetness, etc. to continue in me. I want to deal with the root of my sin and have God tell me to not hesitate or be timid and to go back up against my city of Ai like He tells Joshua in chapter 8, but that's for next time.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Joshua 6

Most of us have known this story since we were children, the walls of Jericho come tumbling down. I love the story, love love it, but I thought what insight will I get to blog about. I guess this isn't really new insight for me or many others but I think it's important to remember.

God told Joshua "I have already given Jericho to you." Love that He starts with that! Then God proceeds to tell him to walk around the city for seven days. On days one through six they are to walk around one time and then head back to camp. The priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant and blow their horns, the front and rear guards say nothing. On the seventh day they walk around seven times but the priests only blow the horns on the seventh time and then Joshua commands the men to shout. As they shout the walls fall down.

Okay, first, how do you think the people of Jericho acted on the seventh day? I mean for six days these people had walked around the city, blowing on the trumpets and then going back to camp. But the seventh day they are quiet for six laps. I think the people of Jericho must have known today is the day. It's kind of like the calm before the storm.

The thing that I wanted to write about, though, is the walls of the city. I am no expert but I would imagine that the trumpet blowing each day weakened those walls. They walked all the way around and blow the trumpets so I wonder if the walls started showing cracks, maybe not on day one, but maybe by day three or four. If they did, I would think the people of Jericho started to notice, especially those like Rahab, who lived on the outer wall.

How about all those feet marching around as well. Would those feet have affected the walls, maybe not on their own but coupled with the trumpets blowing. I wonder if on day seven each silent pass around the city made the cracks larger. Then the trumpets start up again as they begin the seventh pass by and those walls were probably moving by now. Then the thunder-clap shout! That shout was the finally straw for those walls. They crumbled down and the Israelites went in a killed everything, except Rahab and her family.

Sometimes God asks me to do strange things. Sometimes He asks me to do them after He has already promised the victory. They seem strange and ineffective, but they may just be like those daily trumpet blarings and feet stompings. Maybe they are cracking the walls. Sometimes He asks me to do them for along time. I think "why do I still have to do this?" Maybe because each step, each trumpet blare, each whatever thing He asks me to do is preparing the wall to crumble. I can't wait until the final time around and God says "shout!" I need to trust Him when He asks me to do the strange, the unlikely, the unpopular, maybe even the crazy thing. He has a reason. He has a purpose.

I know the Israelites get a bad rap from Christians, and not that they shouldn't, but we can learn so much from the lessons God taught them. What they go through in a physical sense we go through in a spiritual one. So I like those Israelites, because it gives me hope to know that as much as they messed up they were God's chosen people and He always kept His promises to them. He chose me and I certainly mess up a lot, but He always keeps His promises to me. Looking forward to doing some crazy things, because I believe He's gonna make some walls come down!